Monitoring Vulnerabilities in Real Time with PowerBroker for Windows

Morey Haber, Chief Technology Officer
August 7th, 2018

It is well-known that PowerBroker for Windows is a powerful privilege management solution designed to remove administrative rights from desktops, tablets, and servers. Its primary function is to reduce the privileges for all users down to the lowest levels needed to perform their job functions while allowing applications to execute with administrative privileges, when necessary, in order to function correctly. Even in Windows 10, operating system functions like cycling services, adding a printer, and even changing the time and date require administrative rights. This is in addition to thousands of legacy and modern applications that still require administrative rights to execute including programs that perform automatic updates or access sensitive portions of the registry and files system. The need to remove administrative rights is still a challenge and so is knowing if those applications, whether granted administrative rights or not, are executing with known vulnerabilities. This is where another powerful feature of PowerBroker for Windows comes into play.

Vulnerability-Based Application Management (VBAM) Explained

PowerBroker for Windows contains a patented feature call Vulnerability-Based Application Management (VBAM). Unlike traditional vulnerability assessment solutions, or even job-based vulnerability assessment agents that perform a full assessment as a snapshot in time, PowerBroker for Windows VBAM operates in real time. Based on the Retina vulnerability database, PowerBroker for Windows monitors user runtime for applications executed and compares the launch of an application to the database. If the executable, dynamic link library or registry matches any known vulnerability based on the application entering memory and interacting with the user and system, the vulnerability is flagged, an event is sent to the BeyondInsight management console, and automated actions are performed if deemed necessary. For example, if the application contains a critical vulnerability over 30 days old, and/or in violation of PCI DSS 3.2 standards, it can:

  • Block or deny the application’s execution
  • Notify the end user of the risk with instructions
  • Allow the program to execute with an alert to an admin to begin a new workflow for remediation
  • Prompt for a secondary justification accepting the risk

See the screenshot below for an example of a VBAM policy.

To a threat actor, nothing is easier to compromise a system than granting administrative rights to an application with known vulnerabilities. Why would you ever allow your environment to make it easy for them to conduct an attack? PowerBroker for Windows with VBAM risk compliance can mitigate these threats.

VBAM Tells You What the Vulnerability Risks Are and What Privileges Are Being Used

PowerBroker for Windows performs vulnerability assessment in real time based on the applications an end user runs versus just a snapshot in time using a scheduled job. The results can be reported on within BeyondInsight as another source of vulnerability data to provide a profile of the risky behavior being executed above and beyond just basic asset risk data. For example, if Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome, and FireFox are all loaded on a single asset, all have known vulnerabilities, but the end user only uses Chrome, VBAM will report Chrome risks and ignore the others since the end user never executes the other browsers. A full vulnerability assessment will reveal all of them but the user’s behavior tied to Chrome usage is the real immediate threat and should be remediated first to minimize the risk. This is the power of VBAM – in real time: What are the vulnerability risks and what privileges are being used.

PowerBroker for Windows is much more than a least privilege solution. It can do a real-time vulnerability assessment, Windows event log monitoring, session recording, keystroke logging, and even quarantine applications. If you are looking to secure your assets beyond traditional end protection products, consider PowerBroker for Windows. Minimizing threats by removing unnecessary administrative and monitoring for vulnerabilities can substantially decrease your asset’s, and user’s, risk surface. For more on how BeyondTrust can help secure all your Windows devices, contact us today.

Morey Haber, Chief Technology Officer

With more than 20 years of IT industry experience and author of Privileged Attack Vectors, Mr. Haber joined BeyondTrust in 2012 as a part of the eEye Digital Security acquisition. He currently oversees BeyondTrust technology for both vulnerability and privileged access management solutions. In 2004, Mr. Haber joined eEye as the Director of Security Engineering and was responsible for strategic business discussions and vulnerability management architectures in Fortune 500 clients. Prior to eEye, he was a Development Manager for Computer Associates, Inc. (CA), responsible for new product beta cycles and named customer accounts. Mr. Haber began his career as a Reliability and Maintainability Engineer for a government contractor building flight and training simulators. He earned a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.